I am leaving soon, moving on to another place and another space. As in most things, it is difficult for me to commemorate what exactly needs to be commemorated. It is tricky for me to recognize the value and the sentiment of a season, of a life. But this place, this unique and tiny world called East Texas, well, it has witnessed my transition from a child to an adult. It has seen me at my worst and it has celebrated me at my best. Over and over and over again.

I moved here because I felt that I didn’t know what else to do. I had an opportunity and I was in love and I was scared of going too far away. I thought I would stay six months.

I stayed eight years.

Life is not always funny, as they say. Often it is wonderful and heart-wrenching and confusing, all in the same breath. My time in this town has brought the sweetest of friends and the oddest of jobs. I dressed up as a pioneer for a paycheck. I hiked up mountains and hauled truckloads of kayaks and tried my hardest to patiently love on teenagers. I traveled to Africa. And then to graduate school. I slung coffee and pastries for far too long. I tutored. I studied. I graduated. Friends moved away, got married, had babies. But I stayed, in my small white house, my dog by my side. I found myself asking why I was here, why I was still here (and still here and still here?) And then I began working with students who required a lot of extra attention and care. I fell in love with them, and with their small town. I fell in love because these students, these often frustrating and oppositional and big-hearted students, well, they humbly reminded me that we all require a lot of extra attention and care.

And that’s just what they gave me.

I have been quietly sad for a very long time. But this place has given me the platform and the peace to endure myself. It has been patient. It has been nurturing. And it has provided the tools for me to grow stronger and feel better.

So, away I will go. In three short weeks I will pack up and move to a new place where I really don’t know very many people. I will begin a job in which I feel thrilled and terrified and blessed to call my own. I will leave my home and a history that I never thought would take root in this place. But truly, I am so thankful that it did.

Thank you to each of you who has loved me well in this part of the world. Thank you for your kindness and your wisdom. Thank you for your humor and your generosity.

And thank you for helping me to grow into the woman I was meant to become.

East Texas, my door is forever open.